Norwegian Court Rules Blog Posts Are Not 'Made Public'
from the welcome-to-the-world-of-weblogs dept
It's something of a truism that the courts take time to catch up with technology, especially in the fast-moving world of the Internet, but Thomas Steen points us to a recent court decision in Norway where the gulf between law and life is particularly wide. The case concerns a blogger called Eivind Berge who was arrested recently on account of some statements on his blog that allegedly "glorified and encouraged the killing of policemen" as a report on the Dagbladet newspaper site puts it (Norwegian original.) Moreover:
Berge also wrote that he "planned" to attack a policeman with a knife on a Saturday evening at Torgallmenningen in Bergen, and in police questioning, he confirmed that he supports the killing of policemen as a tool in the fight against male feminists.
The Gulating court had to consider whether Berge's writings were criminal under the Norwegian Penal Code, and came to the following, rather surprising, conclusion (Google Translation):
"In the present case we hear of statements the accused has made [on] his "blog" on the internet. This can be read and commented on [by] others, in that they seek and log onto the blog. The Court can not see that this means such a reproduction as the law requires," according to today's ruling.
As the Norwegian journalist Martin Grüner Larsen points out (Google Translate of Norwegian original):
This means in brief that a mass medium that can reach absolutely everyone in the world, which is publicly known, [with] many readers, is searchable by Google and that despite what it says in the ruling does not require authorization by any means, [is] not public.
Indeed, Larsen believes that the ruling as it stands might even apply to any Web site, not just blogs:
Gulating Court of Appeal in short, just know that the expression on the Internet are not public, regardless of deployment size, nature or amount of reading.
The Dagbladet piece says that the police are expected to appeal to Norway's Supreme Court. Assuming that happens, the lower court's ruling seems likely to be overturned, since it is based on an almost complete misunderstanding of how blogs work and Net dissemination takes place.